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Re: License of m4/ltoptions.m4

From: Bob Friesenhahn
Subject: Re: License of m4/ltoptions.m4
Date: Tue, 9 Nov 2004 19:43:24 -0600 (CST)

I never paid attention to the wording before (they did make sense in ltdl.c) but the wording of the special exception is not as wonderful as it should be:

# As a special exception to the GNU General Public License, if you
# distribute this file as part of a program that contains a
# configuration script generated by Autoconf, you may include it under
# the same distribution terms that you use for the rest of that program.

The reason why it is not as wonderful as it should be is that it mentions being part of a 'program'. While some components (e.g. libltdl) may become part of a 'program', most are periphery to it and will never become part of a 'program'.

Scripts like 'depcomp' are programs in and of themselves but they are human readable so their very existence satisfies GPL.

As we know, GPL is designed to place distribution limits on a derived 'program' but not on the source code itself. GPL goes to considerable effort to define the meaning of 'program' and ordinary text files do not fit that definition. Text files and scripts are clearly source code and will remain as source code. This makes the wording of the special exception very confusing when applied to source code.

To me 'package' makes much more sense than 'program' for this usage.

Bob Friesenhahn

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